Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering

  1. Hey everyone,

    I was just wondering what the difference is between aerospace and aeronautical engineering, what each program focuses on, what its amied toward, the post-university job market of each...basically all the guts of each program.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aeronautical Engineering focuses more on constructing skeletons of the airplanes. Aerospace involves studying spacecrafts; though it depends on the course structure of the university you're willing to get in.
  4. I don't think there is any major difference. I have never heard of aeronautical engineering and even aerospace is so uncommon at universities that I don't think there is much of a difference.


  5. Aerospace engineering is uncommon at universities? why is that?
  6. brewnog

    brewnog 2,793
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In the UK the course content seems to be universally identical.
  7. Well, I am up here in Canada, and the only uni which offers it is Carelton. There are others where you can major in it, but not start out as a undergrad.


  8. thats wierd! so how do you start out as? a mechanical engineer and then transfer to aerospace engineering in sophomore/junior year?

  9. Here at McMaster 1st year ENG is general and then in second year you specialize (Elec, Mech, Materials etc).
  10. in canada they also have AE at U of Toronto
  11. brewnog

    brewnog 2,793
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's really not very useful.

    Aerospace or Aeronautical?

    That's what the thread is about!
  12. Here at Glasgow we changed the name of what was the Department of Aeronautics and Fluid Mechanics to the Department of Aerospace Engineering merely because of an increasing amount of spacecraft (as opposed to aircraft) research. This changing situation will have some influence on the undergraduate course - e.g you might get a course in orbital mechanics appearing - but the effect is small. If you're thinking of doing aero-whatever, look at the syllabus of each programme rather than the overall title or the name of the department.

    You might also check out mechanical engineering programmes. Newton's Laws are the same in any discipline and, as a mechanical engineer, I've done more work for the aero industry than for any other single sector.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  13. Aerospace Engineering
  14. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Generally, aeronautical deals with aircraft that move or 'fly' through and atmosphere, while aerospace would generally apply to ex-atmosphere craft.

    The craft and propulsion systems are quite different. For example, on earth, the craft simply needs to carry the fuel, because the air provides the oxidizer (oxygen). In the vacuum of space, one must carry the oxidizer or another source of heat (e.g. solar, nuclear).

    Wings (airfoils) are not necessary in space, but are essential in aircraft design and performance.

    Here is an interesting hybrid - nuclear ramjets capable of propelling craft through the atmospheres of the large planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Purpose - collect fuel and exploration.
  15. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Ehh, not really, Astrouc (though it may differ from one college to the next). I was an aerospace engineering student before I switched to Mechanical. Essentially:

    Aerospace and its derivatives are a subset of mechanical engineering. That's why you don't see them at every university. They are specialized and the demand isn't all that high. Many universities will have aerospace as a "track" or minor of ME.

    Aerospace and aeronautical engineering are essentially interchangeable, but the term "aeronautcal" is falling out of favor because of the evolution of aircraft. When you start dealing with supersonic/hypersonic flow (which is touched on briefly as an undergrad with "Gas Dynamics", which is essentially a supersonic flow course and included rocket/jet nozzles), "aerospace" really is a more accurate term.

    What I think you may be thinking of, Astronuc, is "Astronautics" (I think that's what enigma is) - which for my school (US Naval Academy) was a "track" of aerospace engineering focusing on spacecraft. The Aero-Aero and Aero-Astro tracks coincided completely until, iirc, 2nd semester junior year.

    So, for "aerospace", think anything up to and including a sub-orbital space-plane. Astronautics is anything above that, but with some treatment of how to get back home...
  16. Pretty much most of the universities are switching from aeronautical to aerospace with a minor focus on spacecraft designs. Some of course offer Astronautics courses which concentrate on spacecraft industry.
  17. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Russ, I am also going back 30 years. My university had an aerospace engineering course, and in the context with which I was familiar, aerospace dealt more with rockets, missiles, satellites and orbital transfer, while aeronautical engineering dealt more with aircraft and aviation, and related systems.
  18. wow i think im going to go with aeronautical engineering since i really love planes but the only problem is that where i live there aren't many air shows or exhibitions so could you guys guide me to where i could find a useful source which could educate me on the latest air crafts and flying systems?
  19. hi i am sridhar from india and i have got my admission in manipal univ. which is offering aeronautical engg
    now my question is what actually is the difference between "nautical" and "space" ?? are the job opportunities same for the both??
    since i want to persue space research as my career which one of them is better for me to choose aeronautical or aerospace????
    can some of u guys please guide me !!!!
  20. Most of the info in this thread seems ... off. I'm an aerospace major. My program allows a choice between vacuum or air-breathing craft. The other two programs I looked at (all three are in Texas, and you can probably guess the universities) were the same.

    Aeronautical is the air-breathing version. Astronautical is the vacuum-based version. Aerospace is the generic term for both astro- and aero-nautical engineering. I think it's pretty much a given these days that you're only an 'astronautical' or 'aeronautical' engineer based on your job. If you're at Boeing, you're probably an aero-. If you're at SpaceX, you're probably an astro-.
  21. so are aero space and astronautical any different or are they one and the same xcept for their names???
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